Community Input Needed on Draft Design Guidelines for MD 108 in Clarksville

Howard County’s Department of Planning and Zoning’s draft Clarksville Pike Streetscape Plan and Design Guidelines document is available online through June 14. On May 14 at Claret Hall, Bill Mackey, Division Chief, Comprehensive and Community Planning, and the County’s consultants gave an overview of the project and introduced the concepts being recommended.The document outlines a vision for the stretch of MD 108 between Guilford Road and Trotter Road that has a “main street” feel that is dynamic and sustainable. Comments and questions about the documents or the process can be directed to Bill Mackey at 410-313-4321 or wmackey@howardcountymd.gov. The Association’s newly established Development Committee is reviewing the draft document and the Board of Directors will discuss the plan and guidelines at their June 1. Prior to finalizing input, the Association would like to receive feedback from River Hill residents.

The ultimate goal of the streetscape plan and design project is the creation of an area along MD 108 in Clarksville that encourages community connections, incorporates pedestrian and bike accessibility, and integrates shops, offices, restaurants, entertainment,services, civic, and cultural uses. The Association’s River Hill Village Center Community Plan (2013)provided a solid foundation for the project, and the Board of Directors had been advocating for this study for many years. Feedback obtained at the Department of Zoning’s two public input sessions, meetings with individual stakeholders from the area,and technical analysis performed by the County’s consultants further informed the plan and design concepts.
To achieve this “main street” vision,the following guiding principles were established for the project:

  • Multi-modal: Support all modes of transportation; prioritize walking and bicycling.
  • Green: Maximize tree planting and landscape along the corridor; incorporate sustainable elements.
  • Community-Focused: Prioritize community uses; provide spaces for gathering, recreation, and commercial uses, highlighting the existing prominent institutions and landmarks.
  • Safe and Enjoyable: Emphasize enjoyment and safety; provide adequate lighting, visibility, and buffer pedestrians and cyclists from vehicles.
  • Well-Maintained: Maintain existing and new street amenities; ensure proper upkeep with a maintenance plan.
  • Memorable: Reflect and reinforce Clarksville-River Hill’s identifiable sense of place.

The plan breaks the focus area into four sections: Guilford Road to just north of the MD 32 overpass, from the area north of MD 32 to Linden Linthicum Lane, from Linden Linthicum Lane to Broad Meadow Lane, and from Broad Meadow Lane to Trotter Road. In addition to identifying streetscape guidelines, architectural design criteria are provided to guide the frontage and relationship of buildings, the selection of amenities, and choices of building materials and styles that respect the surrounding context while allowing flexibility.

Once the public comments are integrated, the next step will be to make the legislative changes required at the County level to implement the plans. The document can then be used to influence new development and re-development. One challenge to creating the desired environment along this corridor is balancing current and future traffic demands with the community’s wants and needs. As a state road, ultimately the State Highway Administration must agree to the changes to the road rights-of-way that are necessary to achieve the plan’s goals. The County has held conversations with the State Highway Administration and is optimistic that the agency will approve the waivers needed to begin implementation. Naturally, funding will be essential and community advocacy will be needed moving forward.

So, take a look and let DPZ and the Association know what you think! Have an impact on the future of our community.

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